In adequate IT is hindering efforts by the Department for Work and Pension’s efforts to combat benefit fraud, according to a report from the National Audit Office.
The auditors acknowledged the department’s "good progress" in tackling fraud, but underlined the importance of having adequate technology to underpin the government’s long-term strategy.
The report said, "The complexity of benefit regulations and inadequate computer systems will also continue to be important constraints on the department’s capacity to reduce fraud and error".
Department officials have been involved in a major scheme to update information systems and IT strategy, drawing on the best practice from a wide range of organisations.
But the report warned that the department must be careful to avoid the problems that have often dogged major public-sector IT projects. "Successful implementation will depend on the department overcoming the difficulties inherent in implementing computer systems on such a large scale."
A Department for Work and Pension’s spokeswoman said the department is addressing the issues raised by the NAO as part of its new IT programme.
"Roll-out of new IT for pensions, payment modernisation and front-end support in job placement and benefit spend is programmed for the next three years," she said.
The spokeswoman added the new IT programme also involved the development of a system providing fraud investigators and their managers with case information on all fraud referrals, elapsed time, investigation costs and the eventual outcomes.
"We intend to develop systems on all parts of the investigation process," she said.